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My love/hate relationship with HGTV February 19, 2010

Posted by Emily in Blogs I read and like, design, rants.
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My name is Emily, and I’m a design addict.

My Google Reader is bursting with “homies” blogs and typography blogs and blogs with names like “Lovely Package” and “Happy Tape” (who knew cool tape – patterned, colored masking tape from Japan – could be so entertaining?) But none of it takes the place of flipping through a well-designed design magazine.

But where to go?

Domino, one of the greatest home design inspirations, closed down about a year ago.

Living Etc is a British decor magazine I love, but I can only, in good conscience, allow myself so many $8.50 issues every year.

I started subscribing to Country Living, and though it leans a bit more, well, country, than I’d like, it sort of holds me over. What Country Living lacks in cheekiness, my ReadyMade subscription more than makes up for. There’s twee urban hipsterness to spare, and sometimes interesting spaces, but it leans a bit too “look, I’m modern and eco friendly”  for my taste. Dwell is the same but even more.

The last two New York Times Habitat features have been so incredibly DULL, as Decorno and others have noted, that I find I’m throwing up my hands.

Honestly, outside of blogs and the occasional Living Etc droolfest, I get my best design fix from reading through my mom’s Better Homes and Gardens magazines.

And so we come to HGTV. Like Country Living and ReadyMade and so on, to some extent HGTV only factors in due to lack of better options. 95% of the houses they feature are blah beige suburban split levels with massive garages – not really my thing. And so few of the people featured have any sense of the possibilities of the house, what it could become. They want new, low maintenance, move-in ready. They pay way too much attention to paint color (which, I will admit, is atrocious when it’s not beige – lots of bubblegum pink bedrooms). And so their wishlists are eerily similar:

  • stainless steel appliances
  • “open plan living”
  • “room to entertain”
  • hardwood floors
  • if one of the few urban episodes, off-street parking
  • and most want a formal dining room

They tour the three houses, each of them saying “this must be the master” as they walk into the biggest room.  For some reason, most of the episodes seem to take place in Canada, so I’ll admit, there’s a little giggle value with the accents. On Property Virgins, pushy Sandra Rinomato guilt trips them into making swift decisions, as though their Canadian outposts have three houses, total, on the market. On My First Place, plenty seem to think their dads will mow their lawns (say wha?) and then they feign surprise when the house they buy gets one room kitted out with boring furniture and lame Target art on the walls.

Is this the best we can do? I remember thinking, back in the day when Trading Spaces didn’t suck, that most of these people didn’t have bad taste to work with – just no taste. Matching bedroom sets, sectional couches around massive TVs (and little else), no moldings or interesting features, berber carpet (or the ubiquitous new hardwood floors) and white or off-white paint, maybe with an awkward accent wall. It’s all such a snore. And somehow, also the American dream.

And am I solving that exasperation via HGTV? No. I’m still flipping on the TV after work some days and shaking my head at what HGTV usually has to offer. But I am looking out for some alternatives, and currently taking any suggestions you might be able to offer.

Comments»

1. Julie E. - February 21, 2010

I try not to get too obsessed with all this but always keen for home inspiration…http://www.diigo.com/user/juliee/house (and no, my bookmarks don’t include Unhappy Hipsters).

2. Mego - February 23, 2010

I know it’s weird and more technical than you’re probably into, but I always find a couple cool things on Lifehacker. They were the ones who gave me the idea of buying a can of chalkboard paint and going to town on anything I could find (except the walls, since renting has its limitations). They also have a cool idea for making solar LED lamps that I might do for my deck/picnic table this summer. Check out all their DIY projects:

http://lifehacker.com/tag/diy/

3. The Making of a Home Renovation Show - March 2, 2010

I agree! Ever since the early days of Trading Spaces, I have wanted to make better programming for TLC and HGTV. I am getting close! And the plan is to make a show totally different that what has been on in recent years. Check out my progress….
“The Making of a Home Renovation Show”
-Brian Kelsey


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